Marfa, Texas. A Travel Guide

Words by
Kirsty Davey
Images by
Kirsty Davey
| July 25, 2016

There’s a place in far west Texas where the windswept plains of the Trans-Pecos flicker with unexplained orbs of light and the supernatural echo of ghost ranchers can be sensed but not seen as you traverse the rugged foothills of its surrounding canyons.

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Eschewing the usual confines of small-town isolation, Marfa is a hub of creative activity. Following Donald Judd’s arrival in 1971, artistic downshifters have been compelled and intrigued by what can only be described as Marfa’s enigmatic ‘bonhomie’.

Flanked by remnants of monolithic adobe, 1950’s kitsch, and panoramic vistas, the tiny town of Marfa has served as a remarkably hospitable canvas for creative folk to assert their visions. Expect, then, to find an unusually diverse selection of epicurean delights, thoughtfully curated boutiques, international art happenings and an unconventional-ness that pervades the minutia of ordinary in a town with a population of only 2,000 and almost 3 hours from the nearest airport.

Like the townsfolk say…

Marfa – Tough to get to. Tougher to explain. But once you get here, you get it.

El Cosmico!
El Cosmico!

Where to Stay

When choosing where to stay, channel your inner nomad and opt for a vagabond trailer or teepee at the El Cosmico campground – a 21 acre high-plains plot dotted with spiny yucca and lovingly maintained off-grid relics.

If you seek more conventional comforts, transport yourself into Tex-Mex-Hollywood glamour at the horseshoe shaped wonderland of the Thunderbird Motel or historic Hotel Paisano.

Food Shark
Food Shark
The Museum of Electric Wonders and Late Night Grilled Cheese
The Museum of Electric Wonders and Late Night Grilled Cheese

Where to Eat

Options for good tucker are plentiful but the majority of vendors operate unforgiving ‘weird’ hours so planning is essential…

Food Shark – The original Mediterranean-by-way-of-West-Texas food truck. The ‘Marfalafel’ wrap is a no-brainer.

Marfa Burrito – Brush up on your Spanish & visit Ramona for a breakfast burrito. $3 of Mexican bliss.

Pizza Foundation – Ridiculously good & not what you would expect to find in a tin shed on the fringe of nowhere. Order in advance.

Marpho – Cold beer & hot pho. Heavenly.

Capri Bar / Lounge – Enjoy a selection of sophisticated, seasonal delicacies hedged by yucca and accompanied by several alcoholic elixirs.

Donald Judd Cactus Garden
Donald Judd Cactus Garden
Eugene Binder Gallery
Eugene Binder Gallery

Where to Visit

Prepare to indulge your inner art critic and spend some time wandering the Chinati Foundation. Take all the tours (some of which are free) and absorb the legacy of Donald Judd. There are several other galleries worth frequenting (Eugene Binder, Marfa Contemporary, Ballroom Marfa etc.) but a day spent exclusively drifting through the Chinati Foundation is essential.

Once you’ve got your art fix, load up on water, fuel, leftover pizza and head out to Terlingua & Big Bend National Park.

Take the scenic drive through the windy foothills of the Chisos Mountains and discover the primitive beauty of  the Rio Grande.

Expect to see remarkable diversity…remnants of ghost ranches, canyon like escarpments covered in wild green sotol, faxon yuccas, Dasylirion wheeleri and abundant wildlife amidst the soaring Chihuahuan desert heat. Upon returning to Marfa, take a sunset detour to the Mystery Lights viewing platform and keep your eyes peeled for the unexplained phenomenon that is the ‘Marfa Mystery Lights’ which can be seen waltzing across the Paisano Pass mesas on clear nights…

Kirsty Davey is an online shopkeeper (Otis & Otto), photographer & digital nomad based on the Surf Coast, Victoria.  Check out Kirsty’s WEBSITE / INSTAGRAM

Big Bend National Park
Big Bend National Park
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